What will tough new PM Tony Abbott mean for Australia?
Today is 'an action day' says conservative 'Mad Monk' as he's sworn in
AUSTRALIA has a new prime minister: Tony Abbott, nicknamed the 'Mad Monk', whose conservative Liberal-National coalition swept Labor out of office on 7 September. Postal votes are still being counted but the coalition is on track to win 90 seats to Labor's 55 in the country's lower house.
The 55-year-old Abbott was sworn in at Government House in Canberra this morning by governor-general Quentin Bryce and set out his stall as a man of action, insisting he would get "straight down to business", the BBC reports.
He said: "Today is not just a ceremonial day, it's an action day … As soon as I return to Parliament House from the swearing-in ceremony, I will instruct the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet to prepare … legislation."
What will this dynamic new PM, a former trainee Catholic priest and amateur boxer, mean for Australia?
No more carbon tax: Abbott's first act will be to set in motion legislation to repeal the tax on pollution by corporations put in place by Labor, which he believes has cost Australia jobs and forced up energy prices. An avowed sceptic who has called climate change "absolute crap", the new PM will replace it with direct subsidies to companies to reduce emissions, says The Times. He will also scrap a tax on mining.
'Boat people' towed back: The coalition will launch a tough new policy under which boats carrying asylum-seekers via Indonesia will be intercepted by the Australian navy and towed back to Indonesia. It also plans to embed Australian police in Indonesia, pay local informants and buy up fishing boats there to keep them out of people-smugglers' hands.
Temporary visas for immigrants: Abbott plans to stop illegal immigration by placing the deputy head of the army in charge of combating people-smugglers. And he will restrict refugees already in Australia to temporary protection visas which must be regularly renewed, a move criticised by human rights groups, the BBC reports.
No Senate majority: While the coalition has comfortable control of the House of Representatives, it seem likely – votes are still being counted – that it will not have a majority in the Senate. This will mean difficulty in enacting key legislation, with the coalition forced to seek the backing of several minor parties. ·